If you see a tall, angular, bearded figure who bears a striking resemblance to Abe Lincoln, jogging down your street or running the Two Oceans half mara-thon in Spartan Harriers’ black and white, it could well be the “Running Bishop”.
The Right Reverend Christopher Gregorowski is in serious training for the upcoming Two Oceans, the most scenic road race in the world.
He may have retired as Bishop of Table Bay 10 years ago but, at the age of 76, this is a man not prepared to let the grass grow under his tarmac-pounding tak- kies.
He’s on a mission – he will run the Two Oceans half marathon on Easter Saturday March 26 to raise money for the Fikelela Children’s Centre in Khayelitsha which shelters 40 vulnerable children, in- cluding orphans, from the township and surrounds, including infants to 8-year-olds. He is chairman of the centre’s steering committee.
The centre needs to replace its ageing Toyota Avanza which is too small and has to make three trips in the morning taking the older children to school and three more in the afternoon bringing them back again.
The goal is to buy a Toyota Quantum or similar, which can carry 14 to 15 children and would require only two journeys a day.
Bishop Christopher is seeking sponsors for his 21km run in aid of the centre. He’s training just after dawn six days a week, running up to 10km a time.
He is no slouch when it comes to putting his best foot forward. From 1979 he has run 10 Peninsula Marathons and 10 full Two Oceans ultra-marathons (permanent number 145) and has taken part in many other races, including 14 Two Oceans half-marathons (permanent number 127).
“I feel blessed to have been injury-free for a running career of nearly 40 years,” he says. He has had many interesting comments along the road, including this from among a group of braaiing, beer-swilling spectators, “Jis- laaik, you ouens, straight out of the Ark!”
Now he’ll be lacing up for the half-marathon on Easter Saturday and hoping sponsors (and perhaps other sponsored runners or race walkers) will come on board to help the little ones at the children’s centre.
Bishop Christopher, who lives in Bergvliet, is an interesting personality. His family originated in Scotland and was named McGregor but left for Poland at a time of hardship in the 18th Century.
The Polish “Gregorowski”, like the original, means “son of Gregor”.
He is a published author of children’s books: Fly Eagle, Fly, Why a Donkey Was Chosen, Angelo at the Waterfront and The Bible for Little Children and a book on South African sculptor Bill Davis.
He speaks English and Afri- kaans (he lived as a young child in Caledon where his father was a minister) and has translated children’s books from the Taal into English.
He also speaks Xhosa, having served the church for seven years in the Transkei.
Ordained in 1963, he served at St Saviour’s Church, Clare- mont, before his stint in the Eastern Cape.
He was rector at St Thomas’s Church, Rondebosch, for 12 years. At that time he joined Celtics and began his running with time trials round the Common.
He then served 11 years in Somerset West (where he ran with the Strand club) before his election as Bishop of Table Bay.
On his Facebook page he describes himself as “retired but retreaded”. He is an active member of the support clergy at Christ Church, Constantia, and on the preaching roster there. His wife Margaret sings in the choir and ensures that he eats lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. He is also often called upon to officiate at confirmations in the three Anglican dioceses around Cape Town, the Boland and north to Namaqualand.
A dedicated conservationist, he is a member of the Princess Vlei Forum, and spent two years on the action committee which battled successfully to stave off development there.
He is chairman of the steering committee of Fikelela Children’s Centre, and now sharply focused on sweating it out to raise money for the new vehicle.
If you would like to sponsor the “Running Bishop”, log on to www. fikelela.org.za for details on how to donate, call 021 469 3776 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
With his sense of fun, Bishop Christopher was prepared to dress up in his purple cassock and bright blue running shoes to pose for this good cause.
And the likeness to Abe Lincoln?
“When people say that, I tell them they are the 3 431st person to say so!”